Home Infrared Sauna Kits: 7 Things To Check Before Buying

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With so many home sauna kits to choose from these days, it’s hard to know what makes a quality infrared sauna, and what is just a cheap import from China. Fact is, most all saunas are imported now in 2018 and beyond, and nothing wrong with that right?  …so long as there is quality control! The saunas sold on Amazon like the JNH Lifestyles that I bought, literally had wood shavings hanging from the ceiling, and saw dust falling out of the wall openings. I don’t know about you, but that’s not my idea of a quality home sauna kit, and something I never want to bring in my house ever again. Couple that with super high emf saunas, like the far infrared Dynamic Barcelona I bought next from Costco, and it becomes abundantly clear that these foreign companies will say anything to make a sauna sale.

That said, I put together my top 5 or so criteria for buying a home sauna, so you can avoid the pitfalls and wasted time/money that I went through buying from big box stores (who don’t really police their products very well.) Just because something has 5 star reviews these days, doesn’t really mean much coming from people who have only ever been in one sauna their entire life. More often than not, they don’t even know what they’re missing. If you’d like to see all 9 of my infrared sauna reviews, click here.

Looking To Buy A Home Sauna Kit?  Check These 7 Things Before You Buy Your Infrared Sauna

1) Low EMF

Everyone says their sauna is low emf, but most just fall back on these third party emf reports done by outside companies.

This is the biggest marketing lie in the universe, if I’ve ever seen one. The cliff notes are, these sauna companies take a single heater out of their sauna, send it to an EMF lab for testing in another state, and then use these testing reports to market their saunas as low emf.

Trouble is, these testing companies, never once step foot in a fully assembled sauna, and measure it’s full operational emf levels accounting for the wiring in the wall, wifi in the ceiling, power supply under your butt, etc…

It’s the biggest bait ans switch in the industry, and sauna salespeople regularly just say a sauna is low emf, without even knowing there are three types of EMF that can be present in a sauna at any time… no matter the brand:

  1. Magnetic Fields (infrared emitters, wall and roof cabling, etc…)
  2. Electric Fields (wiring, power supply, etc..)
  3. RF Radiation (bluetooth, wifi, etc…)

Until a company comes out with a complete report that covers all three of these inside a completely assembled infrared sauna, I wouldn’t trust them.

My rule of thumb is, if you don’t see a person on live video in the sauna review, with multiple emf meters testing all types of emf at the same time, this person potentially has no idea what they are talking about, and is just trying to take your money and make a sale.

2) Far Infrared Not Full Spectrum (or NEAR INFRARED!)

I don’t care what NASA study many people like to reference when talking about near infrared and full spectrum saunas, but you can’t just blindly swap out NIR research that was done on LED lights for an incandescent bulb sauna.

Fact is, heat lamp saunas and full spectrum infrared emitters that a lot of companies are trying to market these days, really don’t give the body much near infrared.

If they did, companies like Joove would be out of business, with their 100 LED red light therapy panels, that you’re supposed to use when the body is cool and at a distance of about three inches away. You simply can’t replicate this in a sauna environment, and I don’t believe the two were ever intended to be used together, despite clever marketing claims by the big sauna companies.

The true workhorse in any sauna, is the far infrared, Even the red lamp saunas that people are calling near infrared, are putting out far infrared.

I believe that far infrared is the best detoxifying type of infrared to focus on in a sauna, and the benefits of the supposed full spectrum or near infrared saunas are negligible at best.

3) Light Color & No Tinted Glass

This is going to seem very very nit-picky to a lot of people, but when you’ve been in as many saunas as I have, you begin to notice the little things that add up to a BIG difference in the user experience of a sauna.

There are a lot of nice woods out there to order your sauna in, and I like most of them except for Hemlock. Cedar is nice, but is usually very dark in color, and thus creates a darker sauna room than a lighter colored wood.

While most people are talking about sauna wood types in reference to the allergy sensitives and whatnot, I’ve found that most of that in’t even an issue unless you’re very sensitive to oils, in which you’d want to stay away from cedar.

What I have found however, is that a dark cabin creates a cave like environment that isn’t nearly as inviting as lighter colored wood. Personally, I like a very light Basswood for my sauna wood of choice, and recommend it because it’s the cleanest looking, brightest finish, and most soothing environment to be in.

It carries light very well, unlike some of the darker woods. So you don’t get that dungeon like feel with dim lighting throughout the sauna, and you never have to bring a reading light inside.

That said, I also do not recommend any type of tinted glass whatsoever.  You want clear glass, so you get that open cockpit feeling when you’re in the sauna, and any ambient light in the room can also pass through freely if you need it.

4) 360 Degree Infrared Heater Coverage (with separate feet & leg heaters)

In a lot of sauna reviews, you’ll see people with a great sweat on their chest. However, what you don’t see, is their lower body sweating.

In a good infrared sauna that’s designed properly, you’ll be sweating in less than 10 minutes, and you’re not just surface sweating on your back in that time frame… Oh no, your whole body is sweating, with sweat dripping from your elbows, the backs of your hands, your legs and feet, etc… You whole body essentially.

And this is what you want!

But many people who haven’t been in a lot of saunas, don’t know a good sweating experience from a bad one. They think any sweating is good, but that isn’t the case.This is evident in a lot of the reviews, and people truly don’t know what they’re missing.

You want a full body sweat, so you can maximize the benefits while your in the sauna for s shorter period of time. One of the things that makes this happen, is having full body coverage in your sauna heater layout design.

Most saunas have a foot heater, but not all have both a leg heater behind your calves, and a foot heater. And hardly any saunas on the market, have a large front heater like the sauna that I’m in right now.

This allows your body to have even heat exposure across the entire sauna, and makes sure there are no hot spots or cold spots like you get in the ceramic saunas. The front heater mounted on the door facing you, along with the separate leg heater, really take care of business in this department, and are highly recommended.

5) Good Speakers With No Hissing

This might seem like another nit picky point, but this truly does affect how relaxing your sauna will be long term.

I don’t know about you, but I hate it when there are annoying noises when I’m trying to relax. In more than one sauna I’ve tested, there have been cheap crappy speakers in a lot of them, that sounds absolutely terrible no matter what music you put on.

I recommend only buying saunas that have name brand speakers in them from now on.

What’s even worse than poor sounding speakers, is a sound system with interference from the electronics and wiring in the roof. You can see firsthand in several of my videos, that a lot of saunas are just thrown together, and suffer from an annoying hiss in the sound system… whether it’s turned on or off!

This is caused by the wiring being un-shielded, or the speaker cabling not being separated from the power cabling.

You want to be sure you get a sauna that does not have any kind of static in the sound system, as it makes it very hard to relax when you’re in there with annoying noises coming from the ceiling.

6) No Wood Shavings Or Splintering On The Milling

There are a lot of slick sauna sales people out there, and some companies even put out 3D mockup pictures of their saunas, like JNH Lifestyles on Amazon.

You’re not actually looking at a picture of the sauna, it’s a computer generated rendering you’re seeing when you look at these saunas with all the great reviews.

You’ll want to be very careful when you see this, because you won’t find out until after you buy it that it looks like it was made from scrap wood, and you can’t see the imperfections in the milling.

There can be shavings and splintering from poor milling on the entire inside of the walls like the one I had, and regularly they’re still covered in sawdust which isn’t a good sign.

On top of that, the main thing you can’t often see, is the build quality. When the heater frames are made from scrap-wood or cheap furring strips, it doesn’t make you feel very good that you just paid $1,500 – $1,500 bucks for an pile of firewood.

For a few bucks more, I was very happy with the higher end quality of better made saunas, and would recommend anyone be extremely wary of buying any sauna brand that doesn’t give you real life pictures from the sauna in customers homes.

7) Temperature Must Go Over 140 Degrees Fahrenheit

Finally, one of the most important things in a sauna, is that it has adequate power to heat you in a reasonable time. Many of the cheaper saunas like you see on Amazon and Costco that I bought, only go up to about 140 degrees.

The main problem with this, isn’t that it’s not hot enough to give you a sweat. It’s that when a sauna is designed to operate at a lower temperature like that, they don’t put enough oomph in the power supply, or put enough infrared heaters throughout the sauna for good even heat coverage.

The preheat time takes way longer, and it takes longer to sweat once you get in, simply because there isn’t enough wattage in the sauna design.

A good example of this, is something that comes up a lot when people are comparing saunas. You might have a great looking sauna that you are considering, but upon further inspection, this one person sauna for example, may only have about 900 – 1000 watts total on the electrical output rating.

Compare that with a high quality one person like the sauna that I use everyday in my house, with over 1700 watts in a single person sauna. I sweat in less than 5 minutes, and it gets to a reasonable temp in less than 30 minutes preheating.

Two person and three or four person saunas, have even more wattage to compensate for the additional size increase, just as they should.

DIY Sauna Course

6 thoughts on “Home Infrared Sauna Kits: 7 Things To Check Before Buying”

  1. Hi Matt! I want to share my near mishap with you. I was about to buy a sauna from someone off the popular site LetGo; which I love to buy things off and have no negative comments on my shopping/buying exspirence using the site…but while hunting for a used Sauna on the site recently; I had No idea what a sauna should and should not offer or provide the user. “ALL I knew is I wanted to sweat!”
    I was just one day shy of buying a used Golden Design from a Seller… just prior to my running across your video on YouTube; after I googled.. “Best Sauna to buy” on YTube..
    I was about to spend $1000 dollars to “sweat” not knowing “Jack Nothing!!!” Your YouTube video Now has me wanting one! Problem is I can’t afford one : ( I have been saving for the “Used” one for a few months and now that I know its not safe or worth my money, leaves me feeling now I will have to wait way longer to be able to afford a sauna..A better one that is! Do you know of any second hand saunas for sale?
    I want to thank you so much for your thorough and informative articles on Saunas. You save me from wasting a thousand (1,000) bucks!
    Lisa S.
    Stafford ,Virginia.

    • Hi Lisa,

      No most everyone that gets a hold of a true low emf model, pretty much never gets rid of it. However, there are some decent saunas on the secondary market that pop up from time to time. I would check multiple places on a weekly basis: fb marketplace, letgo, craigslist, offerup, nextdoor, etc…

      Also make sure to lookup the retail price of the sauna when shopping second hand so you can negotiate. $1,000 bucks for a used Golden Designs could potentially be a ripoff… some of their models are in that price range new from Costco, so you’d want to make sure you’re getting a deal. 🙂

  2. Great article, Matt. Saunas offer so many benefits including improving cardiovascular health, reducing stress levels, increasing circulation, alleviating skin problems and even delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s. Apart from what you’ve mentioned, I’d just like to add that the walls of the sauna shouldn’t be too thin. Although this may look more chic, thin walls won’t hold up to wide temperature swings, affecting the durability of the sauna.

  3. Hi Matt! Thanks for leading me to purchasing a Radiant HEALTH sauna! It came in perfect condition and heats to 149 degrees. Relatively easy to put together…I don’t know how you put it together yourself lol! And the price was right! Thank you for doing all the work! I was going to buy a Clearlight which would have been a good choice as well but not a better value. Happy Sweating!!!!


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